Lucius The Imperial, Vancouver BC, May 10
Published May 11, 2016The warmth of the Imperial, its tasselled curtain backlit in pink and emblazoned with Lucius, welcomed the Brooklyn five-piece last night (May 10), the venue comfortably full with an older crowd.
Lucius lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig made their entrance in their trademark matching style and attire — blonde bobs, red capes and dresses peppered with lightning bolts, metallic pink tights — and launched into "Madness," the first track off the band's latest release, Good Grief. The lithe gait and mournful air of the opener easily slipped into "Tempest," with seamless vocal switch-offs between Wolfe and Laessig, and taut playing by guitarist Andrew Burri and drummer Dan Molad who were surrounded by percussion setups on opposite ends of the stage.
The intimate play between Wolfe and Laessig was incredible, the two feeding off each other throughout the performance, entirely in sync. During "Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain," the duo moved away from their instruments, coming together front and centre, face to face to harmonized so beautifully and powerfully you could feel the weight of it. It was the tracks from Good Grief that garnered the most crowd response, the pop-heavy release quite distinct from the folk-pop musings of their acclaimed first album Wildewoman.
The vocal prowess and unrivalled harmonizing of Wolfe and Laessig made the performance, demonstrated best on "Did You Find Love." While all members harmonized in a moment of hazy reverb, the duo moved stage right, a single microphone between them, their bodies mere feet apart as their vocals filled the space, the crowd in absolute rapture.
Despite not having much crowd interaction, the band's energy and enjoyment was palpable, as was their hold over the audience. Absolute silence fell in the middle of "Dusty Trails" — not a sound from the crowd, not a note produced by instruments, just the power of vocals stretched overhead. That intimacy was juxtaposed with the brashness of the next song, "Born Again Teen," which followed like a swift right hook.
A departure of the duo from stage had the band start a lengthy looped intro to "Almighty Gosh," mystery vocals finally piped in as the crowd looked around confusedly, only to find Wolfe and Laessig among them, perched atop a set of stairs at the back of the venue. They made their way through the audience as if in a protective bubble, the crowd creating space in unison as they passed through, stopping in the middle to dance and close out the track.
Their return to the stage saw them perched on the edge, with guitarist Burri expressing humble thanks to their fans for their support, and keeping position to deliver an intimate rendition of "Two of Us on the Run," the band quietly filling in the silence, hitting their stride at the end. Surprisingly, the biggest crowd response — in the form of rapt attention and every lyric sung — was during "Go Home," the twangy crooner off their first album, which dripped with heartache and sweetness.
The first song of their encore featured just Wolfe, Laessig and opener Margaret Glaspy on guitar, huddled sweetly around a microphone to belt out — surprise — "Can't Help Falling in Love." It was a beautiful, tender moment that had the crowd silent and swaying until the last refrain, when they all joined in. To close off the show the band launched into B-side "Genevieve," wood block-abundant and with unrivalled enthusiasm, to the crowd's delight and surprise. You'd be hard pressed to find a band that has more fun onstage.